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Glacier Country Tourism Developing Destination Stewardship Plan

September 3, 2021


Glacier Country Tourism, MMGY NextFactor and Better Destinations



Missoula, MT – Glacier Country Tourism, the officially recognized tourism region for Western Montana, is developing a Destination Stewardship Plan for the eight-county region. The planning will engage residents, community leaders, public officials, and industry stakeholders over a 12-month process.

The organization has hired MMGY NextFactor to develop the plan, a leading advisor in travel and tourism who has worked with more than 250 destinations across the globe. MMGY NextFactor has partnered with Better Destinations, a Colorado-based consulting firm founded on a belief that healthy visitor ecosystems grow from addressing a holistic range of considerations. The plan will create a strategic vision for the future of Glacier Country’s visitor economy to ensure its economic sustainability while preserving the quality of life for residents and quality of place.

“Tourism continues to play a significant role in the future prosperity of our region,” said Racene Friede, President & CEO of Glacier Country Tourism. “However, we must be thoughtful about how the quality of the visitor experience can be balanced with the quality of life for residents; about the types of visitors who would provide maximum financial value to our local communities while having the optimal social and environmental impact, and how we can responsibly grow our tourism industry for the benefit of all in our communities,” she said. “We’re looking forward to working with the talented teams at MMGY NextFactor and Better Destinations."

Glacier Country leaders will meet with the consulting team in early September to kick off the planning process. A steering committee made up of various community and industry leaders has been established to guide the development of the strategy.

Steering Committee Members:

  • Dylan Boyle: Explore Whitefish
  • Shannon Brilz: University of Montana Conference and Event Services
  • Ray Brown: Sanders County Community Development Corporation
  • Loren Flynn: Montana State Parks Region 2 Parks Manager
  • Amber Pacheco-Holm: Libby Area Chamber of Commerce and Montana Sky
  • Carole Johnson, Superior Ranger District
  • Matt Lautzenheiser: Historical Museum at Fort Missoula and Museums Association of Montana
  • Victoria Lee: Glacier Distilling + Josephine’s Bar
  • Aubrie Lorona: Swan Mountain Outfitters
  • Riley Polumbus: Logan Health, Previously Whitefish Mountain Resort
  • Rep. Katie Sullivan, Montana House of Representatives
  • Pete Webster, Jeff Mow or Gina Kerzman: Glacier National Park
  • Seth Wilson: Blackfoot Challenge
  • Jim McCaul: MMGY
  • Cathy Ritter: Better Destinations
  • Racene Friede: Glacier Country Tourism
  • Aerionna Skrutvold: Glacier Country Tourism

“The visitor economy has become an inherent and integral part of the Glacier Country community, requiring organizations like Glacier Country Tourism to take a more holistic approach to their thinking,” said Jim McCaul, Senior Vice President of Destination Stewardship at MMGY NextFactor. “There’s greater awareness today about how the visitor economy can be leveraged more effectively to drive equitable and sustainable economic development that benefits a broader spectrum of communities in a destination. A destination stewardship plan is therefore needed to balance existing visitor growth with the long-term health and vibrancy of the community and ecosystem.”

"Glacier Country is among the first in the U.S. to dedicate resources for a Destination Stewardship Plan, a strategic planning approach that goes above and beyond to safeguard assets that residents hold dear while supporting a thriving visitor economy," said Better Destinations Founder and CEO Cathy Ritter. "Our collective goal is to shape a strategy that is mindful of a wide range of viewpoints and addresses the necessary components to position Glacier Country as a healthy destination and place to live for years to come."

About Glacier Country Tourism

Glacier Country is recognized by the Tourism Advisory Council (TAC) and the state of Montana as the official marketing, management and stewardship organization for Western Montana. Glacier Country is funded in part by the state accommodations tax (bed tax) and by private membership funds. Geographically, Glacier Country includes Flathead, Glacier, Lake, Lincoln, Mineral, Missoula, Ravalli and Sanders counties.

About MMGY NextFactor

MMGY NextFactor is an industry-leading consulting firm specializing in travel and tourism. Our team of experts has delivered insights and strategies to more than 250 destinations across the globe. We empower our clients and the travel industry at large to deliver sustainable growth to visitor economies and build stronger communities.

We believe in the transformative power of travel. We realize that to be a leader in the tourism sector today is to be an architect of future economies, societies and possibilities. We provide the intelligence, insight and inspiration these leaders require to make a meaningful, sustainable and equitable difference in their communities.

In 2019, we joined forces with MMGY Global, the world’s largest integrated marketing company specializing in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. As part of the MMGY Global family, our clients have access to insights and experts across multiple agencies throughout the world.

About Better Destinations

Creating a thriving destination requires more than attracting travelers. As never before, leaders are faced with creating flourishing tourism economies while addressing complex challenges. One-dimensional solutions can fall short of achieving desired results.

Better Destinations offers a better way. This flexible consulting practice is founded on a belief that healthy visitor ecosystems grow from addressing a holistic range of considerations. Better Destinations is equipped to assist leaders in maximizing the benefits of tourism while addressing impacts to achieve overall positive outcomes, including stakeholder support.

Drawing from nearly a decade of experience as state tourism director for two powerhouse states, Cathy Ritter has deep experience in developing customized, insight-led solutions to pressing tourism challenges. A specialty is action-oriented destination management planning, especially relating to sustainable or regenerative tourism. Another is guiding creation of initiatives to address specific objectives, whether low-impact tourism, visitor preparedness, inclusivity, workforce development or other interests.

Better Destinations is fueled by the power of partnership. Like few others, it offers a record of success in bringing people together to create timely and innovative solutions. It also draws strength from a deep awareness of emerging trends and readiness to leverage the right expert resources, whether local or global.

For general inquiries:

Lucy Guthrie Beighle, Director of Communications, Glacier Country Tourism:, 406.239.3193